Guest editorial: Library renovation proposal doesn’t make sense
Ryan Summerlin April 8, 2014
The Park City Council recently approved 9.3 million dollars for the renovation of the Library building which will start in June. Inexplicably, only a year ago the cost was projected at 3 million.
This is from the Park City Library website:
"Why do you need a $9.3 million library renovation? The fact that this is a library renovation is a misnomer. This is actually an entire building renovation project that is part of the lower Park Avenue Redevelopment. It will include a community meeting/reception space on the third floor, a catering kitchen, a renovated and expanded library, and will temporarily house the senior center. The project will also include a reveal of the original historic building, green building improvement, safety reinforcements, and a new entry feature."
The Library Renovation is not part of the Lower Park Avenue Redevelopment Plan. The 2010 Plan mentions a garden and walkways at the "Library Complex" but nothing about renovating the Library. The Plan does mention a new conference center which would account for $12 million/year income to Park City.
The current auditorium takes up the back half of the second and third floors and the Library will expand to the remaining half of the second floor. This leaves only an area on the third floor for the "community meeting and catering kitchen".
The question "Why do you need a $9.3 million library renovation?" is not answered. Instead of answering "why" there is only a description of what they are going to do.
The justification for the renovation was based on a 2008 survey. This was done before Kindles, Nooks, iPhones and Ipads were available. Since 2010, Amazon sells more e-books than paperbacks. Some libraries even lend e-readers.
In the 2008 Survey there were 400 respondents. The results were not significant based on a high proportion of respondents over the age of 45 and the absence of any Hispanic respondents (which make up 24 percent of the Park City population, US Census 2010). The survey is not current.
Currently the American Library Association supports "the Physical to Virtual Libraries, (ALA June 2011.) In general the recommendation is for libraries to be smaller, not larger, and with more technology. The tentative budget allows $100,000 for technology. In the future digital technology will be the primary function of a digital library. "Libraries will be technology hubs and users will increasingly think of them as a community space that enables access to technology and a source of digital literacy" according to Pew research, 1/22/2013.
The Park City Library offers two important things for young children. Colorful picture books and cozy corners that engender a positive environment for learning. The staff also provides several programs for mothers and their children using books, toys, music and movement.
I recently asked a sophomore at Park City High if he ever used the public library and his answer was that he thought it had closed. He never even uses the school library because he uses Google for research and reads everything on a Kindle. Yet the library renovation is adding a teen area without having any data on teen usage. In fact, the renovation is going forward without any data regarding currant usage or how people will use a library in the digital age.
Does a $9.3 million renovation make sense? We will have a larger library designed for the non-digital age and rooms across from the auditorium on the third floor, neither based on any studies of usage or need. Three of the five councilpersons decided to spend $9.3 million tax dollars on the Library renovation. The best answer I received to my question of WHY for the Library Renovation was from a councilperson who said "Park City has a lot of tax money and we have to spend it."
This is a revolutionary time for libraries moving into the digital age. What was the reason for the renovation not being put before the citizens of Park City to ponder and vote on like was done with the MARC?